On empowerment

If only I’d read the Daodejing when I was much younger. It would have saved me from me wasting more time than I care to think of plowing through mountains of books and articles on the subject of empowerment!

Even though their philosophies were very different, both Laozi and Confucius opposed excessive government interference in people’s lives. No prizes for guessing what they would think about the increasing number of rules and regulations that are being imposed in modern times.

「以正治國,以奇用兵,以無事取天下;吾何以知其然哉,以此!天下多忌諱,而民彌貧;人多利器,國家滋昏;人多伎巧,奇物滋起;法令溢彰,盜賊多有;故聖人云:我無為而民自化,我好靜而民自正,我無事而民自富,我無欲而民自樸!」
Govern a state using natural justice.
Wage war using surprise.
Govern the world using effortless action.
How do I know this?
By the following:
The more restrictions there are, the poorer the people will become;
The more sharp weapons people have, the more troubled the state will be;
The more clever and cunning people are, the more strange things will happen;
The more rules and regulations there are, the more thieves and robbers there will be.
Therefore the wise say:
If I don’t interfere, the people will automatically transform themselves.
If I love tranquility, the people will automatically do what is right.
If I don’t meddle, the people will automatically prosper.
If I have no desires, the people will automatically live in a good and simple way.

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